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MEMPHIS, EL PASO AND PACIFIC RAILROAD. The Memphis and El Paso and Pacific Railroad was chartered on February 7, 1853, to run from a point on the Red River in a westerly direction up the valley of the Red River to the headwaters of the Trinity River. From there it was to cross the Brazos River near Fort Belknap and run to the Rio Grande near El Paso. This company was one of five southern transcontinental railroads chartered by the Texas Legislature in 1852 and 1853. The company did little beside hold railroad meetings, and on February 4, 1856, President Travis G. Wright and the board of directors of the Memphis and El Paso and Pacific received a charter for a new company, which they named the Memphis, El Paso and Pacific Railroad Company. The new company was also chartered to run from the eastern border of Texas to El Paso. Members of the first board of directors included Travis G. Wright, Simpson H. Morgan, John D. Thomas, George W. Wright, John T. Mills, Stephen D. Rainey, Benjamin S. Walcott, Thomas Ragsdale, H. G. Hendricks, Samuel Bogart, and Josiah W. Fort, all from Texas. Grading began near what is now Texarkana in late 1856 and, despite limited finances, the company was able to complete sixty-five miles of road bed before the outbreak of the Civil War. This included a grade between Jefferson and Moore's Landing on Caddo Lake. The Red River raft (see RED RIVER) made it difficult to deliver material, but one load of railroad iron was delivered to Moore's Landing before the balance of the company's rails were seized by the Confederate government. After the war Gen. John C. Frémont became interested in a southern transcontinental railroad and became involved in the affairs of the Memphis, El Paso and Pacific. Frémont used the railroad's land grant as collateral for bonds he sold in France, but the company only graded a few extra miles. Frémont and his associates incorporated The Southern Trans-Continental Railway Company on July 27, 1870, to acquire the Memphis, El Paso and Pacific and to build along its projected route to El Paso as well as between Jefferson and Texarkana, but this company also did no work. The Memphis, El Paso and Pacific remained independent, however, as both it and the Southern Trans-Continental were sold to the Texas and Pacific Railway Company on June 12, 1873,and March 30, 1872, respectively. The Texas and Pacific built from Marshall through Jefferson to Texarkana in 1872 and 1873 and finally completed the projected Memphis, El Paso and Pacific line between Texarkana and Fort Worth in 1880.

Virginia H. Taylor, The Franco-Texan Land Company (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969).
George C. Werner

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, George C. Werner, "Memphis, El Paso and Pacific Railroad," accessed November 24, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.